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Op-Ed: Health warnings on social media? See any other problems?

Take the money out of posting this garbage on social media and it’ll stop.

The Oxford University researchers found no evidence that Facebook membership is harmful
The Oxford University researchers found no evidence that Facebook membership is harmful - Copyright NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/IRAP/Rapin et al./Nature/AFP Handout
The Oxford University researchers found no evidence that Facebook membership is harmful - Copyright NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/IRAP/Rapin et al./Nature/AFP Handout

An opinion piece in The New York Times by the US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy advocates labeling social media with what are basically health warnings. Reactions have been predictable but mixed.

These warnings are not intended to be a fix but “similar to tobacco.” It’s about awareness. Murthy also raises many points about research into the negative effects of social media on adolescents.

This idea seems well-intentioned and perfectly legitimate in terms of focusing on simple basic warnings. It’s taken 25 years, but the general consensus about social media’s biggest problem seems pretty universal.

The question is how you expect to tell people that they shouldn’t do something “naughty.” It’s a rite of passage for these generations.  

It also raises the question of what type of warnings to use.

A few suggestions:

“Here be ultra-morons.”

“A nutcase a day makes everything OK.”

“Hours of meaningless chat is a good way of joining the living dead.”

“You’re probably talking to some pedophile bot, anyway.”

“99% of online scams come from social media.”

“If you thought meth and bath salts weren’t trashy enough, try social media.”

“Like deepfakes? You might get lucky.”

“How much utter crap do you need in your life? Here’s where you find out.”

To be fair, social media is also a matter of personal situational awareness. If it looks hideous and stupid, it probably is. A lot of the “less impressive” stuff on social media is highly avoidable.

The “awareness” thing is perfectly reasonable. Some people need to be reminded they’re living in an insane society. The general idiocy has been so normalized it looks OK.

Let’s also face the fact that the constant use of the expression “Where are the adults?” is no coincidence. The total lack of any level of interest in basic safeguards for anything and everything is ubiquitous.

The sub-animal behavior of alleged people in the news all the time doesn’t help much, either. The net effect is to socialize sociopathy. That’s how the people on the screen act, so other people imitate them.  Just wait for the movie How to Be a Mediocre-at-Best Septuagenarian Pig to come out.

Social media reflects society. In America’s case, that’s an easy gimme for media.  America’s imbecilic worship of crime in all forms, which has been such fun for the last 40 years, is a case in point. Kids emulate what they see. The most useless middle-class pseudo-gangster is a role model, and so on. The dumbest lead the way.

Never mind censorship. Trash is trash. You don’t need morality; you need common sense. If it can’t be posted, problem solved.

Very much to the point: Take the money out of posting this garbage on social media and it’ll stop.

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Disclaimer
The opinions expressed in this Op-Ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Digital Journal or its members.

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Written By

Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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